‘Round these parts, one is likely to hear the phrase “Wrong Answer!” as the un-solicited correction to any statement. “We’re having veggies for dinner, kids” will be answered by at least one of them with “Wrong Answer!” “Mom, I want to stay up late” gets a “Wrong Answer!” from me.
“I color the walls!”
“I want candy”
“We should clean the house today”
“Let’s try to go potty, Wendy”
All of the above will get a resounding “Wrong Answer!” from SOMEONE. I admit to using it as often as the kids. It’s never a statement of defiance, more like all-in-good-fun joking. It comes from pop culture (most things in our family vernacular do). This particular phrase is from Tinkerbell. Tink, who wants to do anything EXCEPT tinker, tries out other talents other than the one to which she’s called. While trying to teach a poor baby bird to fly, she attempts to give a rousing pep talk to the budding budgie, but he’s not going for it. She tells him to give it a try and when he hides behind his shell, she yells out “Wrong Answer!” I realize not everyone is relegated to using pop culture references only accessible to the under-ten set, but bear with me.
I had the “Wrong Answer” urge yesterday in church. Pastor asked if we would take the route that promised “Keep going the way you normally do” or “detour” and saw several raise their hands indicating they would take the detour. I wanted to yell out “Wrong Answer!” to those people. I kept my mouth shut, thankfully, or would have received some strange looks from the congregation, no doubt. “Wrong Answer!” is like a game-show buzzer in real life. Even though I know taking the detour God has planned is the right answer, I question the veracity of their raised hands. How many of us would do that? I think it might have helped to have had a “Wrong Answer!” or game-show buzzer in Biblical times.
For instance, John 18: 17-18, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, ‘I am not.’
“Eh! Wrong Answer!”
John 18: 25 “As Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, ‘You are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it saying, ‘I am not’
“Eh! Wrong Answer!”
John 18: 26 “…Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?’ Again Peter denied it”
“And at that moment a rooster began to crow” as if to say “Eh! Wrong Answer!”
Jonah refused to preach in Nineveh and got a “Wrong Answer” in the form of a large marine mammal. Annanias and Saphira got an immediate “Wrong Answer” in the form of smiting. Job got a three-chapters-long “Wrong Answer!” from God. All of these were in some way, denying the Lord, just as Peter did, denying his authority, his favor and his majesty.
What are ways that we deserve a “Wrong Answer!?” How do we, like Peter, deny Christ? We answer the question about being his disciples with “No” in that we don’t ACT like his disciples. We give our love conditionally to others, predicated upon their agreeing with us or what they might give us in return. We are spiteful and gossip and tear one another down. That denies Christ as much as saying “I don’t know him” and we also say, “Yes, but…” as an answer to that question. Yes, we’re happy to be disciples as long as it is comfortable, as long as the world doesn’t hate us for Christ, as long as we get the upper hand in our communities, politics, relationships. “Yes, but…” you need to bully those who don’t believe into seeing things your way. “Yes, but…” you’re not THAT kind of Christian. “Yes, but…” not right now, God, you’re too busy for that kind of involvement. We deny and should get a resolute:
“Wrong Answer!” (thus ends my over-use of quotation marks, Amen.)